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March 31, 2009

Twitter Success = Sincerity and Authenticity

It took me about 6 months before I actually "got" Twitter.

Once I started to use the service in earnest - the results were pretty impressive. I tripled my traffic to the blog within the first week. And I have been able to attract some pretty significant people as potential referrers of my posts. (You can follow me here )

Today Twitter features as a structural element in my approach to social media marketing. I have experimented a lot with it, and learned a heck of a lot. (And I have met some pretty cool and influential people also, life is fun lately)

I am not going to tell you that Twitter is the greatest thing since sliced bread. There are many people out there telling you that.

But I can tell you what I have learned.

The one thing that stands out to me about Twitter is that insincerity and sycophancy are immediately seen for the self interested garbage that it is. It is, a hey say, a hard room.

Here are some tips that have helped me, I hope they help you.

1) Enjoy it! 

  • Being successful with Twitter, or LinkedIn or whatever Web 2.0 medium you choose takes time and patience. So you might as well enjoy it. 

  • This is no magic bullet, nothing is, it is just another way to immediately reach people who may have been unreachable for you a short time ago. 

  • Get smart. The standard Twitter interface may be iconic but it isn't too engrossing. But Tweetdeck... now theres a great application for Twitter. 

  • Tweet deck updates regularly so you can see all of the streaming information from the people you follow, and from the people who are following you. You can also create groups of people you follow, and a whole host of other stuff. (Not a tutorial on Tweetdeck)
  • Get mobile. Twitterberry is a great little app for the blackberry. it has it's limitations but it has seen me through travelling across the deserts of the middle east. Several journeys across Australia, and even a few trips into the USA and Europe from time to time. So it has passed any tests I set for it. 
And lastly... if there is anybody reading this who hasn't yet realized that consulting is almost 100% about relationships. (real ones, not the "in it for me only" ones) then you are in the wrong game and reading the wrong blog.

Twitter is a fantastic way for you to interact with people who are like minded. People who share common interests and who you are likely to strike a chord with.

2) Follow "your" people.

When I started I had no idea what to do. So I used the search function to track down people who had similar interests.

First I went looking for people talking about consulting or consultants. Then I started with people who talked about Seth Godin or Daniel Pink. Then I moved onto general terms like marketing and other terms I have an interest in.

Check their Twitter stream, see if they are talking about stuff that interests you, and if so then follow them.

There is a cultural thing in Twitter to follow everyone who follows you. Well, you can kiss a lot of frogs that way. I tend to check out what they are talking about first, and if it suits me then I'm in!

And of course snowballs build. Among those who were following me for a while before I followed them include Mr Kevin Rudd (Prime Minister of Australia), Mr Malcolm Turnbull (Leader of the opposition in Australia), Tom Ziglar (Zig's boy)

3) Get leveraged!

Twitter is also a trust based asset.

As people who follow you become more acquainted with you, and as they become more acquainted with your work, they are more likely to re-tweet what you post.

This is a referral. A recommendation from a trusted source. The people following them may see it, may read it or follow the link, and if what you write or say is extra-ordinary enough, you may get another follower out of it.

Re-tweets is one way of leveraging what you post. But the best by far is when other people volunteer to post your blogs feed (say) via something like Twitterfeed  .

It's easy. Just log into Twitterfeed  using your OpenId, get them to place the URL of your blog (mine is... and get them to set it for each hour or whatever.

That way whatever you post gets posted by other people also. This is one of the secrets to Alltop's underground success, and it is something I try to use as much as possible.

Track your retweets. Check what works with your crowd and what doesn't, and err towards those issues that people find you to be referred about.

4) Be sincere and authentic

Twitter, LinkedIn and every other forum I have ever been a part of is all about relationships. And people recognize false sincerity and sycophancy in an instant. (Heck, there have been far too many books written by sycophants for us not to be cynical)

So be real. I personally don't tweet about my breakfast or what I am doing most times. But I do get into moods when I will post my thoughts on certain issues. or I will use Twitter to rave on about a specific theme that I am working up in my head. (Normally a precursor to a blog post)

If you want to be re-tweeted then you have to forward the information from others. Not garbage, but stuff that is worth forwarding. Trust does beget trust...

If you want people to look out for you then talk to them! Send them tweets, reply to what they are saying. Twitter is one of the first real many to many communications hubs, and for all the people in there it can be pretty lonely if you are just shouting into the noise.

Treat it like a shortened version of real life. Just as dynamic, just as personal - only 140 characters long. Would you give somebody a "free gift" just for meeting you?

Would you spam them with offers and other commercial rubbish just for the mistake of meeting you?

Would you just continually throw articles at them just because they met you?

Of course not...

Common sense again, treat it like any other real world relationship and you will continue to attract followers. You will continue to have high hit rates on links you send in. And you will continue to develop relationships that go beyond the virtual realms of Web 2.0. (And for consultants - that's what counts.)